Publications, annotated


Games: Agency as Art (forthcoming from Oxford University Press). Games occupy a unique and valuable place in our lives. Game designers do not simply create worlds; they design temporary selves. Game designers set what our motivations are in the game and what our abilities will be. Thus: games are the art form of agency. By working in the artistic medium of agency, games can offer a distinctive aesthetic value. They support aesthetic experiences of deciding and doing.

And the fact that we play games shows something remarkable about us. Our agency is more fluid than we might have thought. In playing a game, we take on temporary ends; we submerge ourselves temporarily in an alternate agency. Games turn out to be a vessel for communicating different modes of agency, for writing them down and storing them. Games create an archive of agencies. And playing games is how we familiarize ourselves with different modes of agency, which helps us develop our capacity to fluidly change our own style of agency.

The book grew from this original article:

Games and the Art of Agency (forthcoming in Philosophical Review)




Monuments as Commitments: How Art Speaks to Groups and How Groups Think in Art (Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, forthcoming). Art can make emotions publicly accessible. Groups can use art to commit themselves to guiding themselves by that emotion. Art makes group emotion possible.

Cultural Appropriation and the Intimacy of Groups, with Matt Strohl (Philosophical Studies, 176 (4), 2019: 981-1002). Some practices are the intimate practices of groups, and that’s why it’s sometimes wrong to appropriate them. Appropriating against the wishes of a group is a breach of intimacy, but so is policing appropriation as an outsider, without consulting the wishes of that particular group.

The Uses of Aesthetic Testimony (British Journal of Aesthetics 51 (1), 2017: 19-36). On what how much we actually do trust each other on aesthetic matters, and what that means for the objectivity of aesthetic judgment.


Echo Chambers and Epistemic Bubbles (Episteme, 2018). “Epistemic bubbles” are informational networks that leave out relevant voices. “Echo chambers” are social structures where insiders are taught to systematically distrust outside voices. Echo chambers can only be fixed by repairing broken trust.

Cognitive Islands and Runaway Echo Chambers (Synthese, 2018). In some domains, we must exercise our own abilities in order to decide which experts to trust. This leads us vulnerable to a runaway bootstrapping effect, where flawed abilities compound themselves through the choice of bad experts.

Escape the Echo Chamber (Aeon Magazine, 2018). A popular press, reader-friendly version of “Echo Chambers and Epistemic Bubbles”.

Expertise and the Fragmentation of Intellectual Autonomy (Philosophical Inquiries, 6 (2) 2018: 107-124). We all depend on other experts; this means that here are different kinds of intellectual autonomy, which can conflict.

Autonomy, Understanding, and Moral Disagreement (Philosophical Topics 38 (2), 2010: 111-29). On why doubting your moral beliefs based on disagreement doesn’t violate moral autonomy.

“From Disagreement to Humility” (forthcoming, Wright and Snow (eds.), Humility: It’s Nature and Function. OUP.) Why the right response to moral disagreement is usually humility and self-doubt.

An Ethics of Uncertainty (2011). My dissertation on the relationship between moral self-trust, disagreement, and self-doubt.


Philosophy of Games

Philosophy of Games (Philosophy Compass, 12 (8), 2017): An introductory survey on the philosophy of games, which attempts to integrate work from many different disciplines.

Competition as Cooperation (Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 44 (1), 2017: 123-37) Games are a form of social technology, capable of something of a moral miracle: converting competition into cooperation.

The Forms and Fluidity of Game Play (forthcoming, Hurka (ed.) Suits and Games. OUP): There are two forms of game-play: make-believe fictional play and the play of striving to overcome obstacles. These forms of play are conceptually distinct and irreducible to one another other – but players have the freedom switch between different forms of play.

Good Violence, Bad Violence: The Ethics of Competition in Multiplayer Games (with Jose Zagal, DiGRA/FDG ’16 – Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG): Apply the “competition as cooperation” model to specific ethical questions from modern gaming, including trash-talking, in-game harassment, and player toxicity. The moral status of such actions is highly contingent; seemingly extra-game social infrastructure, such as the systems that create player match-ups, are crucial for the successful conversion of competition into cooperation.

An Aesthetics of Gamesan brief summary for the American Society for Aesthetics newsletter. I consider the divide between theorists who view games as a text or art object, to be interrogated for its meaning and content, and the theorists who view games as an activity, to be interrogated for its value and fairness.

The Aesthetics of Rock Climbing (Philosopher’s Magazine, 78, 2017: 37-43). An essay on the practical harmonies of rock climbing, and the beauty of solving the puzzle in movement.

Other little stuff: Precis and critical commentary of Grant Tavinor’s “What’s My Motivation?: Video Games and Interpretive Performance” for Aesthetics for Birds’ JAAC x AFB discussion series.

Older papers: Games as Landscape (2013) is a very early form of my view, but many of the details have better developed in the more recent papers.


Short pieces

What’s Missing From Cookbook Reviews  (AFB). On why cookbook reviews don’t talk about how it feels to cook, and the general exclusion of the eater’s movement

Algorithmic Satire (AFB). On comedy by bot, where the algorithm is the point